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The New Arab

Google suspends AMP websites in Egypt after latest attack on critical media

Cairo has said websites have been blocked for allegedly "supporting terrorism" [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2018

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Internet giant Google has suspended access to a publishing protocol for mobile devices in Egypt after authorities blocked the portal, which is used to circumvent online restrictions.

Internet giant Google has suspended access to a publishing protocol for mobile devices in Egypt after authorities blocked the portal, which is used to circumvent online restrictions.

A Google spokesman told local online news website Mada Masr on Tuesday that the company has stopped directing users in Egypt to Accelerated Mobile Pages [AMP].

"We are informed that users in Egypt have not been able to access AMP pages resulting in poor user experience," the spokesman said.

"As a result, we have decided to suspend directing users in Egypt to the Google AMP cache while we dig into the issue," he added.

Egyptian authorities blocked access to AMP pages this week in the latest apparent move to prevent access to websites deemed critical of the government.

Since May last year, authorities have blocked at least 496 websites belonging to leading media organisations, including The New Arab, and civil society groups.

Human Right Watch, which has also been blocked in Egypt, has condemned the crackdown to "crush peaceful dissent".

Cairo has said the websites have been blocked for allegedly "supporting terrorism and spreading lies".

Last month, Saudi Arabia also blocked access to AMP pages, which banned news websites have used to make their content accessible by creating parallel AMP reports posted on popular social media platforms.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain launched a blockade on Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting extremist groups and being too close to Iran.

A list of 13 demands were issued by the blockading parties, which included the shuttering of popular media groups Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab.

Doha strongly denies Riyadh's claims and has rejected the demands.

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